A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Hajj (to attend a journey). Pilgrimage to Makkah (مكة المكرمة), Mecca on 8 to 12 of Dhul al-Hijjah, the twelfth and final month in the Islamic lunar calendar which moves 10 to 12 days earlier each year. This month of increased spirituality is one of the holiest periods of the Islamic year, with two very special events of devotion to Allah, Hajj to 22 July and Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) on the third day of Hajj and lasting for three days, the second major Muslim festival after Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting. All Muslims who can afford to do so, and are not prevented through ill-health, are required to make the Hajj pilgrimage, dating from the 632 farewell pilgrimage of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), once in their lifetime, although there is no prohibition on making the pilgrimage more than once. Pilgrims are between 18 and 65 and must declare their Niyyah intention to God, which should be sincere and for the sake of Allah only, not other worldly matters. In accordance with Shariah (Law of Islam), when pilgrims to Mecca reach a Miqat principal boundary point they must enter the sacred state of Ihram, preparing their bodies and minds, reciting an intention and following a dress code for repeating a set of rituals during the first two days that were first performed by the Prophet Mohammed (obuh). On day one, the day of Tarwiyah (quenching thirst), pilgrims begin their Hajj at the Kaaba (الكعبة, Cube at the centre of the Masjid al-Haram Sacred Mosque most sacred site in Islam), with Tawaf walking counter-clockwise to express the devotion of Muslims praying to one God. The Prophet Ibrahim built the black stone Kaaba for the pilgrimage with the help of his son Ismael, the stones being said to have been supplied from heaven by the angel Gabriel. Then, pilgrims perform a Sa’i walk, re-enacting Hagar the Prophet Ibrahim’s wife’s going between the Makkah hills to look for water for her son Ismael after God ordered Ibrahim to leave them alone in the desert. Hagar ran between two small hills, Al Safa and Al Marwa, 7 times. Ismael then scratched the ground and God caused a spring to well up, now the Well of Zamzam (زَمْزَمَ). Then, the pilgrims go the 5 km to Mina to pray and to spend the night in the valley where the Prophet Ibrahim stoned the devil, after he had tried to lead him astray. The Hajj seeks to deepen allegiance to Allah and to seek his forgiveness of sins. It is one of the five pillars of Islam, the carrying out of which obligations provides the framework for Muslim life. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, pilgrims from outside the Kingdom were not to be permitted to enter Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj in 2021 and Hajj rites were to be limited to 60,000 pilgrims, vaccinated citizens already residing in the Kingdom. Some pilgrims will also travel north to MadinahI (Medina). Before the pandemic, some 2.5 million pilgrims would go to Mecca for the five days of Hajj. Indonesia has again cancelled Hajj due to the pandemic. Differences in moon sightings mean that Muslims in different parts of the world celebrate these Islamic events on different days. The Saudi authorities have gradually allowed a limited number of pilgrims to perform ʿUmrah (عُمْرَة, to visit a populated place), the lesser pilgrimage to Mecca, in the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia, that can be undertaken at any time of the year, in contrast to the Hajj pilgrimage that has specific dates in the Islamic lunar calendar. Image: bbc.com.
Prayer The Messenger of Allah said whoever goes out from his house after performing ablution to perform a prescribed prayer in congregation in the mosque, his reward will be like that of one who goes for Hajj after Ihram. And a prayer followed by a prayer with no worldly talk between them will be recorded in the record of deeds for the righteous. Here we are at Thy service O Lord, here we are. Here we are at Thy service and Thou hast no partners. Thine alone is All Praise and All Bounty, and Thine alone is The Sovereignty. Thou hast no partners. Al–Ḥamdu lillah, All praise is due to God alone
NoRuz (New Day). Zoroastrian Kadmi New Year’s Day, previously the Pateti day of penitence and introspection on the last day or last five days of the calendar year and now on the first day of the New Year’s Day celebrations, celebrated in India on New Year’s Day. Although the name has been retained, Pateti is no longer a day of introspection and NoRuz is celebrated on the Shenshai Calendar in the Khordad (خرداد) third month of the 622 CE Persian solar Hijri calendar, which is divided into twelve months of varying lengths. The first six months have 31 days, and months seven to eleven have 30 days. The last month Esfand (اسفند) has 29 days in a common year and 30 days in a leap year. In the Tenth Century, a group of Zoroastrians had fled from Iran and were given religious sanctuary by the Hindus of Western India, where they became known as Parsis (Persians). During the Twentieth Century, the Zoroastrians of Iran revised their calendar to take account of the leap year but the Parsis of India have continued to follow the traditional imperial Shenshai calendar. By the Twentieth Century, the Parsis of India had become the largest group in the world to practise Zoroastrianism, and in the Twenty-first Century over 95% of Zoroastrians in the UK are Parsis who, like their Indian counterparts, celebrate two new years, the Parsi New Year being observed on 16 August in India. Image: 123greetings.com.
Zoborhegyi Szent Benedek (St Benedict of Szkalka, Svätý Benedikt Pustovník) (d1012). Feast Day with St Andrew for the Hungarian Benedictine monk at the St Hippolytus Monastery on Mount Zobor near Nitra, Slovakia (then Hungary) who was renowned for his piety and strict asceticism. He later became a hermit with his fellow saint and spiritual teacher Andrew Zorard and they lived an austere life in a Zobor mountain cave on the Váh River near Trenčín, in modern Skalka nad Váhom, Slovakia, part of the Kingdom of Hungary. Andrew died in 1009, but Benedict continued to live in the cave for three years until he was strangled to death by a gang of robbers looking for treasure. His body was thrown into the Váh River but it was found perfectly preserved a year later. In 1083, his relics were translated to the St Emmeram’s Cathedral in Nitra, where they remain to this day. Venerated in Catholic, Eastern Orthodox Churches and in Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and the émigré diasporas in the USA. Major shrine St Emmeram’s Cathedral. Feast Day 1 May, 17 July on some calendars and together with St Andrew on 13 June. Patron of Váh River sailors, Diocese of Nitra, Diocese of Tarnów, St Andrew Abbey, Cleveland, Sts Andrew and Benedict parish, Detroit. Image: hu.wikipedia,org.